The world is heading toward a future where the unmitigated emission of greenhouse gases led to a hothouse effect that will increase the average global temperature, causing the sea level to rise and throwing weather patterns into chaos.
The impact of climate change is already being felt from Tuvalu and Kiribati, islands that are already sinking because of the rising sea levels, to the United States, where wildfires and strong hurricanes are becoming more frequent.
Scientists estimate that the planet only has about a decade to act before the damages caused by climate change become irreversible. This does not come as a surprise because studies have been warning about the consequences of climate change for decades and, yet, corporations and governments continued to support and pursue activities that emit carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
A Preference for Clean Energy
However, there seems to be a shift happening. The need to take action against climate change is urgent, and many Americans believe that the U.S. government should be doing more to mitigate the impending weather-related disasters.
A previous survey found that the majority of the population, or about 67% of all Americans, believe that the U.S. government is not doing enough to reduce the effects of global climate change. The public also believes that the U.S. government can do more to protect air quality and water quality in lakes, rivers, and streams.
Clearly, the preservation of the environment is a primary concern of the public.
Many Americans are also taking steps to help fight climate change. Another survey revealed that more than four out of 10 American households, or 46% of respondents, are considering switching to renewable energy, up from just 40% from 2016.
About 6% of homeowners in the U.S. already installed solar panels for their homes as of 2019.
The U.S. still relies mostly on fossil fuels to power homes and businesses across the nation. In 2018, petroleum made up 36.4% of the energy used by the grid, while 30.7% came from natural gas and 13.1% is from coal. Meanwhile, wind, solar, and geothermal sources did not even make up 20% of the energy used in the U.S.
There is good news, however. Although the U.S. is still very far from achieving 100% clean energy usage, the adoption of renewable power sources is picking up. In 2008, solar power generated over 2 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. Ten years later, it generated more than 93 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.
Moreover, because of the pandemic, the use of fossil fuels decreased despite falling prices. On the other hand, the use of renewable energy sources grew in 2020 and it will continue to expand in the coming years.
Will Clean Energy Take Over?
However, is the adoption of renewable energy sources fast enough to turn the impacts of climate change around?
While the situation in the U.S. is far from perfect, a lot of developed nations around the world are making huge strides. Sweden vows to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels gradually in the coming decades, with the goal of eliminating it completely from its grid by 2040. Meanwhile, Costa Rica has taken advantage of its landscape by generating 95% of its electricity from hydro, geothermal, solar, and wind energy sources. Scotland is constructing what will become the biggest offshore wind farm in the world
These efforts can lead to wind and solar energy capacity to overtake gas capacity by 2023 and then coal capacity by 2024. If the current rate of growth continues, renewables may become the largest source of energy in the world by 2025. By 2050, the entire planet might be powered by renewable energy sources.
Is It Enough?
There is no one path toward preventing the consequences of climate change, but completely switching to renewable energy sources will dramatically slow down the warming of the planet. About 40% of the carbon dioxide pollution in the U.S. comes from power plants burning fossil fuels for electricity. The U.S. is one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world. Reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and, therefore, emissions will make a significant contribution to the fight against climate change.
The time is ticking. The world needs to make major changes in order to slow, stop, and reverse climate change. As a response, more nations are shifting toward renewable energy sources to power homes and businesses, steadily phasing out fossil fuel use. However, do not expect improvements overnight.
The work to prevent the consequences of climate change will take years if not several decades to make a difference. Hopefully, by the time efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions take effect, there is still a chance to save the planet.